Thursday, March 01, 2007

Arizona and back

Green Valley, Arizona, is probably the ultimate retirement town. Great climate, a clean and impeccably managed town - to all appearances - and easy access to the history of Arizona, Tuscon and Mexico. We spent a few days there with good friends, enjoyed their hospitality and some cut-throat scrabble as well as a great deal of travelling around the area.

Most memorable for me will be the side trip into Nogales, Mexico. We drove into Nogales, AZ, where W. parked the car and we walked across the border into Nogales, Mexico. We were greeted by shops selling jewellery, money exchange kiosks and pharmacies selling prescription drugs, apparently, at cut-rate prices. One hawker at a pharmacy offered loudly, "Viagra, we got viagra. Cheap. Have really good time tonight!" R. asked at a jewellery shop where she'd done some browsing if there was any way we could see the city, and he suggested the transit bus terminal nearby. Another gentleman flagged down a bus for us and for a dollar each, we commenced a two-hour voyage through the city of Nogales. The downtown doesn't surprise with businesses like any other city. It's when you get up into the high hills around town that you see Nogales other side. Here narrow gravel trails wind in and out, up and down among shacks of concrete block and unpainted plywood. Homes are packed together and children play among wrecked cars, dust and debris. Also up in these hills are the Multinational factories that exploit cheap labour as they do in Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso. Master Lock, for instance, has a factory there that probably covers 5 acres. The employment opportunity doesn't seem to hold a lot of benefits for the community, however.

We also stopped in on friends from Eigenheim spending a few months in Mesa in a fifth-wheel they bring up with them from home in winter. With them, we saw a good bit of the beauty of Arizona, including the desert hills with the Siguaro cacti standing like prickly sentinels in their thousands. We played a game of "desert curling" with some friends of A. and V.; it's like ice curling except that it's played on a waxed floor with "rocks" made of wood. Both mine and Agnes's teams lost badly and I hope they're not still muttering about those inept curlers from Saskatchewan.

We got back to Carlsbad on Tuesday night. We took a cross-country route via state highways 60 and 70 to Lordsburg where we drove the I10 through El Paso and then on to Carlsbad through the Texas panhandle. We passed through the most magnificent mountain scenery so far between Phoenix and the NM border, and I'd highly recommend this route for anyone travelling in the area. Just east of the Guadalupe mountains, we spotted 5 - 6 Javelinas (Ha va LI nas), small, black, wild pigs, rooting for food in the ditch.

Back to work. We nailed siding at the Habitat for Humanity house until strong winds started blowing over our ladders and making the handling of siding boards hazardous. Our crew went over to a local house where we were nailing up gyproc and nearly finished one room. The house in question is in pretty bad shape, and when I was going to mark the stud locations for nailing the plasterboard and I asked for the level, the owner of the house laughed. There's no point in using things like levels and squares in this house, he said. He was right. I remarked to our fearless leader that when we got done nailing up the gyproc, we would need to do some very creative mudding.

Spring is windy in NM. We want to golf this afternoon, but it's almost too breezy for that, so we'll play it by ear. The temperature is around 70F.

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